March 2005

A discussion on cosmology in challenging_god lead me to find a Slashdot story on the recent paper from Fermilab which says that the expansion of the universe may be accounted for without the need for dark energy. That in turn lead me to an excellent Scientific American article which explains the whole expansion/horizon/redshift thing very coherently. I think I knew what the authors say, but had not connected the assortment of half remembered facts into a coherent whole (come to that, I’m not sure I’d connected them into a coherent whole when I first learned them, either, although I don’t think the lecturer committed any of the fallacies the article refers to). Scientific American seems consistently better than New Scientist at this sort of thing: the only reason for buying New Scientist is the back page.

So busy. Jo had a party on Thursday at which there was dancing. The CDC Ball was on Friday, in the Guildhall in Cambridge. The floor was a little slippy, but it was good to have one in Cambridge as people could come and go as they pleased. bluap had a pancake party on Saturday, at which I spent some time talking to jacquic about Buffy and enthused about Firefly (of which more below). I think I also mentioned the cats and robot vacuum cleaners link, so there it is. I want a robot vacuum cleaner.

Today was tea and cakes party, which seems very Cambridge, and a chance to catch up with people I don’t see that often.

In other news, I recently finished watching the DVD of Firefly, Joss Whedon’s science fiction series, which was prematurely cancelled by the US TV network which had sponsored it. It’s the Western-in-space which Star Wars wanted to be, but better. The series follows the crew of Serenity, an unarmed freighter, as they make their living out of various dubious schemes and attract the attention of some very bad people when they give shelter to a couple of fugitives. It has Whedon’s trademark witty dialogue, and presents a more consistent universe than Buffy (it’s not hard science fiction by any means, but there’s nothing so glaringly wrong that it distracts you from the story). Once again Whedon gives us a close-knit group of people whose struggles we come to care about. Fortunately, the show’s cancellation wasn’t the end: there’s a film, Serenity coming out later this year.

sumanah liked the Satanist joke in the last entry, so I thought I’d mention revdj‘s quote: “Satanists are Libertarians who realized that they were not going to get sex by quoting Ayn Rand to women in their twenties.”

Everyone loves Ayn Rand, of course, but I can see his point. It occurs to me that someone could do a Forum 2000 clone on LJ by creating appropriately named accounts. Unfortunately, both aynrand and ayn_rand already exist, and in any case, you just can’t get the bored CMU grad students these days.

I’m a man of wealth and taste:

You scored as Satanism. Your beliefs most closely resemble those of Satanism! Before you scream, do a bit of research on it. To be a Satanist, you don’t actually have to believe in Satan. Satanism generally focuses upon the spiritual advancement of the self, rather than upon submission to a deity or a set of moral codes. Do some research if you immediately think of the satanic cult stereotype. Your beliefs may also resemble those of earth-based religions such as paganism.



















Which religion is the right one for you? (new version)
created with

The quiz author seems to have in mind the modern Satanism of people like our old friend Aleister Crowley and Anton LaVey. It’s more likely that I’d cast my lot in with the Dark Lord (who only exists in a metaphorical sense, remember) than that I’d, say, convert to Islam, but that’s not saying very much. Satanism seems to be an elaborate prank designed to annoy Christians while having some good parties (which of course, I can do anyway), rather than a system one could practically live by. If any Satannic evangelists would like to compete with nlj21 for my attention, then we can always talk, of course.

In the meantime, I will stick to the True Faith of the Invisible Pink Unicorn (May Her Hooves Never Be Shod) and Kelvin, who is The Lord.

S introduced me to Buffy the Vampire Slayer a little while ago. I’d seen the occasional episode on TV, but never watched them all in order. The other day, I watched the final episode, having previously watched the preceding 7 series, in order. From this you might be able to tell that I like the show.

<lj-cut text=”Some minor Buffy spoilers within”> For anyone who’s not had the pleasure, the series follows the eponymous Buffy, a teenage girl in the Californian town of Sunnydale. Sunnydale is build on a Hellmouth, a centre for supernatural evil. Buffy is the Slayer, a chosen woman with supernatural strength and agility, a teenager in High School as the show begins. The story follows an arc that takes Buffy and her friends through their school years to university, with a new enemy each season.

The show’s appeal lies in its affection for its characters, its humour, and its ability to switch from humour to horror without clashing gears. Like other long running shows with a story arc (Babylon 5 springs to mind) the show rewards the viewers’ perseverance by actually doing stuff with its characters, whether it’s the development of the main characters or reprising cameos.

You can object (and many have) to inconsistencies in what seems to be called the Buffyverse. Why don’t guns work there, except for that one time? Just how much daylight does it take to kill a vampire? Why do so few of the villians investigate the possibilities of explosives (and when they do, fail to apply them to the greatest threat, viz, the lady herself)? Since when were there mines near London? Just where is Spike’s accent from, anyway? But that’s not the point.

The point is that BtVS has a story about people to tell, and does so rather well. I hear Firefly is quite good, too.